The Democratic minority leader in the Idaho House announced Wednesday that he is resigning and joining the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce as vice president of government relations.
Lawmaker Mat Erpelding was an articulate spokesman for his party and found areas where he could work with Republicans. However, he did not shy from confrontations.
Earlier this year, he used House rules requiring every bill to be read in full when he felt Republicans were trying to rush through a redistricting bill. The measure was pulled and ultimately died.
Democrats will offer three possible replacements for Republican Gov. Brad Little to choose from to serve the rest of Erpelding’s term in the next legislative session that begins in January.
“District 19 is well-positioned with a myriad of qualified candidates capable of serving us well,” Erpelding said.
Democratic House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, an attorney who lives in Boise, said she will seek to become minority leader.
“With my experience in Democratic leadership, I bring an important strategic perspective to the table., she said.
Republicans hold super-majorities in the Idaho House and Senate.
Erpelding began representing Boise’s north end in 2012 and became House minority leader in 2017. His resignation is effective Friday.
“I forged unexpected and lifelong friendships with many of you, even as we debated deeply divisive and challenging issues,” Erpelding said of his fellow lawmakers.
Erpelding runs an outfitter and guiding business and said in his resignation letter he needs to advance his professional career.
“I am excited to join the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce where I will continue advocating for Idaho’s core economic needs,” he said.
Republican House Speaker Scott Bedke congratulated Erpelding on his new job.
“While I am personally happy that he has been afforded this new opportunity, I am also sorry he is leaving the House of Representatives,” Bedke said. “In his position as minority leader, he has proven an insightful and collaborative legislator.”
Bill Connors, president and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber, welcomed Erpelding to the organization.
“This is a big get for us,” Connors said. “What I really like about Mat is that he’s a very pragmatic politician. He’s a guy who likes to get things done. He can work with both sides of the aisle.”